WORDS IN ART - GLOSSARY

Typography metal letters to make words since the page is dedicated to the glossary about art
Welcome to the WORDS IN ART – page!
Here you can find the glossary that can be useful to understand better the Visual Art World.Click on each word to read the definitions and find links to my blogs and videos where you can see examples.

A

An acroterion or acroterium or akroteria is an architectural ornament placed on a flat pedestal called the acroter or plinth, and mounted at the apex or corner of the pediment of a building in the classical style. An acroterion placed at the outer angles of the pediment is an acroterion angularium (angulārium means “at the corners”).
The acroterion may take a wide variety of forms, such as a statue, tripod, disc, urn, palmette or some other sculpted feature.

“Acroterion” examples:

An opening such as a door or a window, framed by columns on either side, and a pediment above.

“Aedicule” examples:

Aegean art (2800–1100 BC) is art that was created in the lands surrounding, and the islands within, the Aegean Sea during the Bronze Age, that is, until the 11th century BC, before Ancient Greek art.

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An allegory is a narrative in which a character, place, or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences.
Authors have used allegory throughout history in all forms of art to illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.

See some examples of “Allegory”:

An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture or relief representing a religious subject made for placing behind the altar of a Christian church.

See some examples of “Altarpiece”:

Ancient Egyptian art refers to art produced in ancient Egypt between the 31st century BC and the 4th century AD. It includes paintings, sculptures, drawings on papyrus, faience, jewelry, ivories, architecture, and other art media. It is also very conservative: the art style changed very little over time. Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments, giving more insight into the ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs.

Learn more about “Ancient Egyptian Art”:

Artistic production in Greece began in the prehistoric pre-Greek Cycladic and the Minoan civilizations, both of which were influenced by local traditions and the art of ancient Egypt.
Starting from 1000 BC, we have four divisions or stages that correspond roughly with historical events: Geometric, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic (you can learn more about it reading the specific definitions).
The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times until the present, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture.

Learn more about “Ancient Greek Art”:

In Christianity, the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus

“Annunciation” in Art:

An antechamber (also known as an anteroom or ante-room) is a smaller room or vestibule serving as an entryway into a larger one. The word is formed of the Latin ante camera, meaning “room before”. “Antechamber” comes from the French antichambre.
In some cases, an antechamber provides a space for a host to prepare or conduct private business away from a larger party or congregation. Antechambers are often found in large buildings, homes, or mansions. They are also very common in palaces and crypts.

Look at “Antechamber” examples:

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.
Most cultures have traditional fables with anthropomorphized animals as characters.

Learn more about “Anthropomorphic Figurine”:

Aqueducts or water bridges are bridges constructed to convey watercourses across gaps such as valleys or ravines. The term aqueduct may also be used to refer to the entire watercourse, as well as the bridge. The word is derived from the Latin aqua (“water”) and ducere (“to lead”).
Although particularly associated with the Romans, aqueducts were likely first used by the Minoans around 2000 BCE. The Minoans had developed what was then an extremely advanced irrigation system, including several aqueducts. Bridges were a distinctive feature of Roman aqueducts, which were built in all parts of the Roman Empire, from Germany to Africa, and especially in the city of Rome, where they supplied water to public baths and for drinking.

See examples of “Aqueduct”:

A curved symmetrical structure spanning an opening and typically supporting the weight of a bridge, roof or wall above it

See examples of “Arch”:

The archaic smile was used by sculptors in Archaic Greece, especially in the second quarter of the 6th century BC, possibly to suggest that their subject was alive and infused with a sense of well-being.

See examples of “Archaic Smile”:

In architecture and decorative art, ornament is a decoration used to embellish parts of a building or object. Large figurative elements such as monumental sculpture and their equivalents in decorative art are excluded from the term; most ornament does not include human figures, and if present they are small compared to the overall scale.
Architectural ornament can be carved from stone, wood or precious metals, formed with plaster or clay, or painted or impressed onto a surface.

See examples of “Architectural ornament”:

Architecture is both the process and the product of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or other structures. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural symbols and as works of art.

Examples of “Architecture”:

An archivolt (or voussure) is an ornamental molding or band following the curve on the underside of an arch. It is composed of bands of ornamental moldings (or other architectural elements) surrounding an arched opening, corresponding to the architrave in the case of a rectangular opening. The word is sometimes used to refer to the under-side or inner curve of the arch itself (more properly, the intrados).

Examples of “Archivolt”:

In European architectural sculpture, an atlas (also known as an atlant, or atlante or atlantid; plural atlantes) is a support sculpted in the form of a man, which may take the place of a column, a pier or a pilaster. The Roman term for such a sculptural support is a telamon (plural telamones or telamons).
The term atlantes is the Greek plural of the name Atlas—the Titan who was forced to hold the sky on his shoulders for eternity. The alternative term, telamones, also is derived from a later mythological hero, Telamon, one of the Argonauts, who was the father of Ajax.

See applications of  “Atlas” in architecture:

B

Babylonia was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and Syria). It was merely a small provincial town during the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BCE) but greatly expanded during the reign of Hammurabi in the first half of the 18th century BCE and became a major capital city.
In Babylonia, an abundance of clay, and lack of stone, led to greater use of mudbrick. The walls were brilliantly coloured, and sometimes plated with zinc or gold, as well as with tiles.

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Baroque architecture is a highly decorative and theatrical style which appeared in Italy in the early 17th century and gradually spread across Europe.
It was originally introduced by the Catholic Church as a means to combat the Reformation and the Protestant church with a new architecture that inspired surprise and awe.

Learn more about “Baroque Architecture”:

A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve (or pair of curves, in the case of a pointed barrel vault) along a given distance.
The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design. The barrel vault is the simplest form of a vault: effectively a series of arches placed side by side.

Learn more about “Barrel vault”:

In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town’s forum.
The name was applied to Christian churches which adopted the same basic plan and is used as an architectural term to describe such buildings containing the remains of a Saint.

See “Basilica” examples:

Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic is one of the styles of painting on antique Greek vases. It was especially common between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, although there are specimens dating as late as the 2nd century BC.
Stylistically it can be distinguished from the preceding Geometric period and the subsequent red-figure pottery style.

See examples of “Black-figure potteries”:

Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
Byzantine art originated and evolved from the Christianized Greek culture of the Eastern Roman Empire; content from both Christianity and classical Greek mythology were artistically expressed through Hellenistic modes of style and iconography.

See examples of “Byzantine Art”:

C

The term campanile, deriving from the Italian campanile, which in turn derives from campana, meaning “bell”, is synonymous with bell tower.

See examples of “campanile”:

A prehistoric picture on the interior wall or ceilings of a cave, often depicting animals

Learn more about “cave paintings”:

A cella (from Latin for small chamber) or naos (from the Greek ναός, “temple”) is the inner chamber of an ancient Greek or Roman temple in classical antiquity.

See examples of “Naos”:

Centring, centre, centering, or center is a type of falsework: the temporary structure upon which the stones of an arch or vault are laid during construction. Until the keystone is inserted an arch has no strength and needs the centring to keep the voussoirs in their correct relative positions.
Centring is normally made of wood timbers, a relatively straightforward structure in a simple arch or vault; but with more complex shapes involving double curvature, such as a dome or the bottle-shaped flue in a Norman-period kitchen, clay or sand bound by a weak lime mortar would be used.

See examples of “Centring”:

Cosmetic palettes are archaeological artifacts, originally used in predynastic Egypt to grind and apply ingredients for facial or body cosmetics. The decorative palettes of the late 4th millennium BCE appear to have lost this function and became commemorative, ornamental, and possibly ceremonial. They were made almost exclusively out of siltstone with a few exceptions.

See examples of “ceremonial palette”:

In art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures

See examples of  “Chiaroscuro”:

A choir is the area of a church or cathedral that provides seating for the clergy and church choir. It is in the western part of the chancel, between the nave and the sanctuary, which houses the altar and Church tabernacle. In larger medieval churches it contained choir-stalls, seating aligned with the side of the church, so at right-angles to the seating for the congregation in the nave.

See applications of  “Choir”:

Also called “Ultra Baroque”, refers to a Spanish Baroque style of elaborate sculptural architectural ornament which emerged as a manner of stucco decoration in Spain in the late 17th century and used up to about 1750.
It is characterized by extreme, expressive and florid decorative detailing, normally found above the entrance on the main facade of a building.

See applications of  “Churrigueresque”:

In classical architecture, a colonnade is a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building.

See examples of “Colonnade”:

A small column, usually decorative. In medieval architecture, a thin round shaft to give a vertical line in elevation, or as an element in a compound pier.

See examples of “Colonnette”:

Concrete is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time.

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Contemporary Art is the art of today, produced in the second half of the 20th century or in the 21st century. Contemporary artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world.
Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that continue the challenging of boundaries that was already well underway in the 20th century.

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Contrapposto is an Italian term that means “counterpoise”. It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot, so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs in the axial plane.
First appearing in Ancient Greece in the early 5th century BCE, the style was further developed and popularized by sculptors in the Hellenistic and Imperial Roman periods, fell out of use in the Middle Ages, and was later revived during the Renaissance. Michaelangelo’s statue of David, one of the most iconic sculptures in the world, is a famous example of contrapposto.

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The Corinthian order is the last developed of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. It is the most ornate of the orders.
This architectural style is characterized by slender fluted columns and elaborate capitals decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls. There are many variations.

See applications of the “Corinthian order”:

A decorative border found where the ceiling meets the walls in some rooms and also along the top of some walls and buildings.

See applications of “Cornice”:

In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated or worshipped for the deity or spirit that it embodies or represents.
In several traditions, including the ancient religions of Egypt, Greece and Rome, and modern Hinduism, cult images in a temple may undergo a daily routine of being washed, dressed, and having food left for them.

See examples of “Cult image”:

D

A dome is an architectural element similar to the hollow upper half of a sphere; there is significant overlap with the term cupola, which may also refer to a dome or a structure on top of a dome.

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In ancient Rome, the domus was the type of house occupied by the upper classes and some wealthy freedmen during the Republican and Imperial eras.
It was found in almost all the major cities throughout the Roman territories. The modern English word domestic comes from Latin domesticus, which is derived from the word domus.

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The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns.
Originating in the western Doric region of Greece, it is the earliest and, in its essence, the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

Examples of “Doric order”:

In art history, drapery refers to any cloth or textile depicted, which is usually clothing.

Examples of “drapery”:

E

The eaves are the edges of the roof which overhang the face of a wall and, normally, project beyond the side of a building. The eaves form an overhang to throw water clear of the walls and may be highly decorated as part of an architectural style, such as the Chinese dougong bracket systems.

Examples of “eave”:

An entablature is the upper part of a classical building supported by columns or a colonnade, comprising the architrave, frieze and cornice.

Examples of “Entablature”:

In architecture, entasis is the application of a convex curve to a surface for aesthetic purposes. Its best-known use is in certain orders of Classical columns that curve slightly as their diameter is decreased from the bottom upward. It also may serve an engineering function regarding strength.

Examples of “Entasis”:

Etruscan architecture was created between about 900 BC and 27 BC, when the expanding civilization of ancient Rome finally absorbed Etruscan civilization.
The Etruscans were considerable builders in stone, wood and other materials of temples, houses, tombs and city walls, as well as bridges and roads. The only structures remaining in quantity in anything like their original condition are tombs and walls, but through archaeology and other sources we have a good deal of information on what once existed.

Examples of “Etruscan architecture”:

Expressionism is a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Northern Europe around the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.
Expressionist artists have sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.

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F

Faience is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip of a lead glaze, was a major advance in the history of pottery. The invention seems to have been made in Iran or the Middle East before the ninth century.

Examples of “Flemish Baroque”:

A false door, or recessed niche, is an artistic representation of a door which does not function like a real door. They can be carved in a wall or painted on it. They are a common architectural element in the tombs of ancient Egypt, but appeared possibly earlier in some Pre-Nuragic Sardinian tombs. Later they also occur in Etruscan tombs and in the time of ancient Rome they were used in the interiors of both houses and tombs.

Examples of “False-door”:

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Flemish art is notable for the large amount of collaboration that took place between independent masters, which was partly related to the local tendency to specialize in a particular area.

Examples of “Flemish Baroque”:

In architecture and building engineering, a floor plan is a drawing to scale, showing a view from above, of the relationships between rooms, spaces, traffic patterns, and other physical features at one level of a structure.

See some examples of “Floor Plan”:

The flying buttress is a specific form of buttress composed of an arch that extends from the upper portion of a wall to a pier of great mass, in order to convey to the ground the lateral forces that push a wall outwards, which are forces that arise from vaulted ceilings of stone and from wind-loading on roofs.

See “Flying buttress” examples:

Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid (“wet”) plaster.

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A fresco-secco or mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surfaces. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.

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G

An engraved gem, frequently referred to as an intaglio, is a small and usually semi-precious gemstone that has been carved, in the Western tradition normally with images or inscriptions only on one face.

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Gothic architecture (or pointed architecture) is an architectural style that flourished in Europe during the Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture.
It originated in 12th-century northern France and its popularity lasted into the 16th century. The style was known as Latin: opus Francigenum (French work).

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Gothic art was a style of medieval art that developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art in the 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, and much of Southern and Central Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy.

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Gouache or opaque watercolor, is one type of watermedia, paint consisting of natural pigment, water, a binding agent (usually gum arabic or dextrin), and sometimes additional inert material. Gouache is designed to be opaque. Gouache has a considerable history, having been used for at least 1200 years. It is used most consistently by commercial artists for posters, illustrations, comics, and other design work.
Gouache is similar to watercolor in that it can be re-wetted and dries to a matte finish, and the paint can become infused into its paper support.

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Archaic Greece was the period in Greek history lasting from the eighth century BC to the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC, following the Greek Dark Ages and succeeded by the Classical period.

Learn more about “Greek Archaic Period”:

In the context of the art, architecture, and culture of Ancient Greece, the Classical period corresponds to most of the 5th and 4th centuries BC (the most common dates being the fall of the last Athenian tyrant in 510 BC and the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC).
The Classical period follows the Archaic period and is in turn succeeded by the Hellenistic period.

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The Greek Dark Age is the interval between the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, around 1200 BCE, and the Greek Archaic Period, around c. 800 BCE. The Dark Age era begins with a catastrophic event: the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, when all major Mycenaean regional centres fell out of use after suffering a combination of destruction and abandonment.
The Mycenaean writing system, was lost shortly after c. 1200 BCE; for this reason, we have no first-hand written documents of any kind for this period. Thus, our understanding of the Greek Dark Age relies largely on archaeological research.

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Geometric art is a phase of Greek art, characterized largely by geometric motifs in vase painting, that flourished towards the end of the Greek Dark Ages, circa 900 BC – 700 BC.

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Hellenistic art is the art of the Hellenistic period generally taken to begin with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and end with the conquest of the Greek world by the Romans in 31 BC.
A number of the best-known works of Greek sculpture belong to this period, including Laocoön and His Sons, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Discover more about “Greek Hellenistic Period”:

Neolithic Greece is an archaeological term used to refer to the Neolithic phase of Greek history beginning with the spread of farming to Greece in 7000–6500 BC.
During this period, many developments occurred such as the establishment and expansion of a mixed farming and stock-rearing economy, architectural innovations, as well as elaborate art and tool manufacturing.

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H

Heroic nudity or ideal nudity is a concept in classical scholarship to describe the use of nudity in classical sculpture to show figures who may be heroes, deities, or semi-divine beings.
This convention began in Archaic and Classical Greece and continued in Hellenistic and Roman sculpture.

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Opus spicatum, literally “spiked work,” is a type of masonry construction used in Roman and medieval times. It consists of bricks, tiles or cut stone laid in a herringbone pattern.

See examples of “Herringbone pattern”:

Hierarchical scale is a technique used in art, mostly in sculpture and painting, in which the artist uses unnatural size or scale to depict the relative importance of the figures in the artwork.
For example, in Egyptian times, people of higher status would sometimes be drawn or sculpted larger than those of lower status.
During the Dark Ages, people with more status had larger proportions than serfs. During the Renaissance images of the human body began to change, as proportion was used to depict the reality an artist interpreted.

See examples of “hierarchical proportion”:

Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters.

See examples of “hieroglyphics”:

The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity holds that God is one God, but in three Divine persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

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I

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with such decoration as initials, borders (marginalia) and miniature illustrations.
In the strictest definition, the term refers only to manuscripts decorated with either gold or silver; but in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term refers to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from Western traditions.

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A style of Gothic art, especially painting, developed in Europe in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, chiefly characterized by details carefully delineated in a naturalistic manner, elongated and delicately modeled forms, the use of complex perspective, and an emphasis on the decorative or ornamental aspect of drapery, foliage, or setting.

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The Ionic order is one of the three canonic orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan (a plainer Doric), and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composite order. Of the three classical canonic orders, the Ionic order has the narrowest columns.
The Ionic capital is characterized by the use of volutes. The Ionic columns normally stand on a base which separates the shaft of the column from the stylobate or platform while the cap is usually enriched with egg-and-dart.

Examples of “Ionic Order”:

Ivory carving is the carving of ivory, that is to say animal tooth or tusk, generally by using sharp cutting tools, either mechanically or manually.
Humans have ornamentally carved ivory since prehistoric times, though until the 19th-century opening-up of the interior of Africa, it was usually a rare and expensive material used for luxury products.

See examaples of “Ivory carving”:

K

Kouros refers to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures that first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths. In Ancient Greek kouros means “youth, boy, especially of noble rank”.

Example of “Kouros”:

L

A Latin cross plan is a floor plan found in many cathedrals and churches. When looked at from above or in plan view it takes the shape of a Latin cross.
The Latin cross plans have a nave with aisles or chapels, or both and a transept that forms the arms of the cross. It also has at least one apse that traditionally faces east.

Example of “Latin Cross”:

A lintel or lintol is a structural horizontal block that spans the space or opening between two vertical supports. It can be a decorative architectural element, or a combined ornamented structural item. It is often found over portals, doors, windows and fireplaces.

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A loggia is an architectural feature which is a covered exterior gallery or corridor usually on an upper level, or sometimes ground level. The outer wall is open to the elements, usually supported by a series of columns or arches. They can be on principal fronts and/or sides of a building and are not meant for entrance but as an outdoor sitting room.

Example of “Loggia”:

  • Neoclassical architecture: United States Capitol

M

Magna Graecia was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day regions of Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily; these regions were extensively populated by Greek settlers.
The settlers who began arriving in the 8th century BC brought with them their Hellenic civilization which left a lasting imprint on Italy such as in the culture of ancient Rome.

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Mandorla is Italian for the almond nut, to which shape it refers. It often surrounds the figures of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary in traditional Christian iconography.
It is distinguished from a halo in that it encircles the entire body and not just the head. It is commonly used to frame the figure of Christ in Majesty in early medieval and Romanesque art, as well as Byzantine art of the same periods.

Look at some “Mandorla” examples:

Mannerism, Italian Manierismo, (from maniera, “manner,” or “style”), artistic style that predominated in Italy from the end of the High Renaissance in the 1520s to the beginnings of the Baroque style around 1590.
Mannerist artists evolved a style that is characterized by artificiality and artiness, by a thoroughly self-conscious cultivation of elegance and technical facility, and by a sophisticated indulgence in the bizarre.

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In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or Medieval Period lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.
The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

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Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large-scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills, processes, and tools.

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Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s. The date perhaps most commonly identified as marking the birth of modern art is 1863, the year that Édouard Manet showed his painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon des Refusés in Paris.
Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing and with fresh ideas about the nature of materials and functions of art.

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The term monumental sculpture is often used in art history and criticism, but not always consistently. It combines two concepts, one of function, and one of size, and may include an element of a third more subjective concept. It is often used for all sculptures that are large.
Human figures that are perhaps half life-size or above would usually be considered monumental in this sense by art historians.

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A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface. Mosaics are often used as floor and wall decoration, and were particularly popular in the Ancient Roman world.

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In art and iconography, a motif s an element of an image. A motif may be repeated in a pattern or design, often many times, or may just occur once in a work.

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A mudbrick or mud-brick is an air-dried brick, made of a mixture of loam, mud, sand and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. Mudbricks are known from 9000 BCE, though since 4000 BC, bricks have also been fired, to increase their strength and durability.
In warm regions with very little timber available to fuel a kiln, bricks were generally sun-dried. In some cases, brickmakers extended the life of mud bricks by putting fired bricks on top or covering them with stucco.

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Mycenaean Art is the art style developed in the city of Mycenae in Greece spanning the period from approximately 1750–1050 BC.

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The term mythology may either refer to the study of myths in general, or a body of myths regarding a particular subject.

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N

A cella (from Latin for small chamber) or naos (from the Greek ναός, “temple”) is the inner chamber of an ancient Greek or Roman temple in classical antiquity.

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The narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church’s main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.
In early Christian churches the narthex was often divided into two distinct parts: an esonarthex (inner narthex) between the west wall and the body of the church proper, separated from the nave and aisles by a wall, arcade, colonnade, screen, or rail, and an external closed space, the exonarthex (outer narthex), a court in front of the church facade delimited on all sides by a colonnade

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Neoclassicism was a Western cultural movement in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that drew inspiration from the art and culture of classical antiquity.

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O

In its simplest form, oil paint is a mixture of three things: pigment, binder and thinner. Pigment is the colour element, while the binder (the oil) is the liquid vehicle or carrier which holds the ground-up pigment to be applied to the canvas or whatever support is to be painted.
A thinner is usually added to the viscous pigment-oil mixture to make it easier to apply with a brush.

Examples of “Oil painting”:

P

A panel painting is a painting made on a flat panel made of wood, either a single piece, or a number of pieces joined together.
Until canvas became the more popular support medium in the 16th century, it was the normal form of support for a painting not on a wall (fresco) or vellum, which was used for miniatures in illuminated manuscripts and paintings for the framing.

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Papyrus is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. Papyrus can also refer to a document written on sheets of such material, joined together side by side and rolled up into a scroll, an early form of a book.

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Prehistoric human-made markings placed on natural surfaces, typically vertical stone and inside of caves, reason why it is often called cave art

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A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.

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A pediment is an architectural element found particularly in Classical, Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, and its derivatives, consisting of a gable, usually of a triangular shape, placed above the horizontal structure of the lintel, or entablature, if supported by columns. The tympanum, the triangular area within the pediment, is often decorated with relief sculpture.

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  • Neoclassical architecture: United States Capitol
Pendentive, in architecture, is a triangular segment of a spherical surface, filling in the upper corners of a room, in order to form, at the top, a circular support for a dome.

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A peripteros (a peripteral building) is a type of ancient Greek or Roman temple surrounded by a portico with columns. It is surrounded by a colonnade (pteron) on all four sides of the cella (naos), creating a four-sided arcade.

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The art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.

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A pilaster is an architectural element used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function.
It consists of a flat surface raised from the main wall surface, usually treated as though it were a column, with a capital at the top, plinth (base) at the bottom, and the various other column elements. In contrast to a pilaster, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

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A pinnacle is an architectural ornament originally forming the cap or crown of a buttress or small turret, but afterwards used on parapets at the corners of towers and in many other situations. The pinnacle looks like a small spire. It was mainly used in Gothic architecture.

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A Plinth or Pedestal is the support of a statue, column or a vase in architecture.

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The pointed or ogival arch is an arch with a pointed crown, whose two curving sides meet at a relatively sharp angle at the top of the arch.
This architectural element was particularly important in Gothic architecture. It first appeared in Indian architecture and Islamic architecture as a way of making more decorative windows and doorways, but in the 12th century it began to be used in France and England as an important structural element.

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The Pompeian Fourth Styles is the fourth step of mural painting techniques used during the Roman Republic before the Vesuvius Eruption (see Pompeian Styles to learn more).
The Fourth Style in Roman wall painting (c. 60–79 AD) is generally less ornamented than its predecessor. The style was, however, much more complex. It revives large-scale narrative painting and panoramic vistas while retaining the architectural details of the Second and First Styles.

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The Pompeian Styles are four periods which are distinguished in ancient Roman mural painting. They were originally delineated and described by the German archaeologist August Mau, 1840–1909, from the excavation of wall paintings at Pompeii.
There are four main styles of Roman wall painting that have been found: Incrustation, architectural, ornamental, and intricate. Each style is unique, but each style following the first, contains aspects of each style previous to it. Any original paintings were created before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The first two styles (incrustation and architectural) were a part of the Republican period (related to Hellenistic Greek wall painting) and the last two styles (ornamental and intricate) were a part of the Imperial period.

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Portable art (sometimes called mobiliary art) refers to works of art that can easily carried and moved. Like for example small sculptures.

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A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea was widely used in ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.

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In architecture, post and lintel (also called prop and lintel or a trabeated system) is a building system where strong horizontal elements are held up by strong vertical elements with large spaces between them.
The horizontal elements are called by a variety of names including lintel, header, architrave or beam, and the supporting vertical elements may be called columns, pillars, or posts.

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A predella is the platform or step on which an altar stands. In painting, the predella is the painting or sculpture along the frame at the bottom of a polyptych or multipanel altarpiece.
In later Christian medieval and Renaissance altarpieces, where the main panel consisted of a scene with large static figures, it was normal to include a predella below with a number of small-scale narrative paintings depicting events from the life of the dedicatee, whether the Life of Christ, the Life of the Virgin or a saint. Typically there would be three to five small scenes, in a horizontal format.

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Putto is a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually naked and sometimes winged.
Originally limited to profane passions in symbolism, the putto came to represent the sacred cherub (plural cherubim), and in Baroque art the putto came to represent the omnipresence of God.

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The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. Most were built as tombs for the country’s pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.

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A quatrefoil is a decorative element consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially overlapping circles of the same diameter.
It is found in art, architecture, heraldry and traditional Christian symbolism. The word quatrefoil means “four leaves”, from Latin quattuor, four, plus folium, a leaf, referring specifically to a four-leafed clover, but applies in general to four-lobed shapes in various contexts.

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Radiocarbon dating (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon.
The method was developed in the late 1940s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.

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Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting.
It developed in Athens around 520 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of black-figure vase painting within a few decades. Its modern name is based on the figural depictions in red colour on a black background, in contrast to the preceding black-figure style with black figures on a red background.

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Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term relief is from the Latin verb relevo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane.
What is actually performed when a relief is cut in from a flat surface of stone (relief sculpture) or wood (relief carving) is a lowering of the field, leaving the unsculpted parts seemingly raised.

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A rib vault or ribbed vault is an architectural feature for covering a wide space, such as a church nave, composed of a framework of crossed or diagonal arched ribs. Variations were used in Roman architecture, Byzantine architecture, Islamic architecture, Romanesque architecture, and especially Gothic architecture.
Thin stone panels fill the space between the ribs. This greatly reduced the weight and thus the outward thrust of the vault. The ribs transmit the load downward and outward to specific points, usually rows of columns or piers. This feature allowed architects of Gothic cathedrals to make higher and thinner walls and much larger windows.

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Roman architecture covers the period from the establishment of the Roman Republic in 509 BC to about the 4th century AD. It used new materials, particularly Roman concrete, and newer technologies such as the arch and the dome to make buildings that were typically strong and well-engineered. Large numbers remain in some form across the empire, sometimes complete and still in use to this day.

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Romanesque art is the art of Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 12th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is known as the Pre-Romanesque period. The term was invented by 19th-century art historians, especially for Romanesque architecture, which retained many basic features of Roman architectural style – most notably round-headed arches, barrel vaults, apses and acanthus-leaf decoration.
Romanesque had many different variations based on the area, but Italy is considered the “birth place”.

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Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850.
Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution-

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Rose window is often used as a generic term applied to a circular window, but is especially used for those found in Gothic cathedrals and churches. The windows are divided into segments.
The name “wheel window” is often applied to a window divided by simple spokes radiating from a central boss or opening, while the term “rose window” is reserved for those windows, sometimes of a highly complex design, which can be seen to bear similarity to a multi-petalled rose.

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A rosette is a round, stylized flower design. The rosette design is used extensively in sculptural objects from antiquity, appearing in Mesopotamia,and in funeral steles’ decoration in Ancient Greece and Egypt.
It was adopted later in Romaneseque and Renaissance architecture, and also common in the art of Central Asia.

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Sarcophagus (plural sarcophagi or sarcophaguses) is a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved in stone, and usually displayed above ground, though it may also be buried. The word “sarcophagus” comes from the Greek with the meaning of “flesh-eating”.

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Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support a work crew and materials to aid in the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings, bridges and all other man-made structures. Scaffolds are widely used on site to get access to heights and areas that would be otherwise hard to get to.

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Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving (the removal of material) and modelling (the addition of material, as clay), in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process.

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In Roman Catholic tradition, “Seat of Wisdom” or “Throne of Wisdom” (translating Latin sedes sapientiae) is one of many devotional titles for Mary, the Mother of God. It refers to her status as the vessel in which the Holy Child was born. In “Seat of Wisdom” icons and sculptures, Mary is seated on a throne with the Christ Child on her lap.

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Sfumato is one of the canonical painting modes of the Renaissance, and is a painting technique for softening the transition between colours, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane.
Leonardo da Vinci was the most prominent practitioner of sfumato, based on his research in optics and human vision, and his experimentation with the camera obscura. He introduced it and implemented it in many of his works, including the Virgin of the Rocks and in his famous painting of the Mona Lisa.

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In Egyptian hieroglyphs, a serekh is a rectangular enclosure representing the niched or gated façade of a palace surmounted by (usually) the Horus falcon, indicating that the text enclosed is a royal name. The serekh was the earliest convention used to set apart the royal name in ancient Egyptian iconography, predating the later and better known cartouche by four dynasties and five to seven hundred years.

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The term stained glass refers to coloured glass as a material and to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings.
As a material, stained glass is glass that has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture, and usually then further decorating it in various ways.

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stele is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected in the ancient world as a monument. The surface of the stele often has text, ornamentation, or both. These may be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted.

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Stucco is a construction material made of aggregates, a binder, and water. Stucco is applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It is used as a decorative coating for walls and ceilings, external building siding, and as a sculptural and artistic material in architecture.

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In classical Greek architecture, a stylobate is the top step of the crepidoma, the stepped platform upon which colonnades of temple columns are placed (it is the floor of the temple). The platform was built on a leveling course that flattened out the ground immediately beneath the temple.

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Sumerian art is the art that Sumerian people made. The Sumerians lived in what is now southern Iraq beginning about 5,000 BC.
Sumerians created a lot of beautiful artifacts with great details and ornamentations using semi-precious stones imported from other lands, such as lapis lazuli, alabaster, and serpentine combined with precious metals. Since stone was rare it was reserved for sculpture. The most widespread material in Sumer was clay, that’s why a lot of daily use objects were made with this material.

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Tempera (also known as egg tempera) is a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder medium, usually glutinous material such as egg yolk. Tempera also refers to the paintings done in this medium. Tempera paintings are very long-lasting, and examples from the first century AD still exist. Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until after 1500 when it was superseded by the invention of oil painting.

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A temple (from the Latin word templum) is a building reserved for religious or spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. It is typically used for such buildings belonging to all faiths where a more specific term such as church, mosque or synagogue is not generally used in English.
These include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism among religions with many modern followers, as well as other ancient religions such as Ancient Egyptian and Greek religion.

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In architecture, a tholobate (or drum) is the upright part of a building on which a dome is raised. It is generally in the shape of a cylinder or a polygonal prism.
In the earlier Byzantine churches the dome rested direct on the pendentives and the windows were pierced in the dome itself; in later examples, between the pendentive and the dome an intervening circular wall was built, in which the windows were pierced, and this is the type which was universally employed by the architects of the Renaissance.

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A tomb effigy, is a sculpted figure on a tomb monument depicting in effigy the deceased. These compositions were developed in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, and continued in use through the Renaissance and early modern period; they are still sometimes used.
They typically represent the deceased in a state of “eternal repose”, lying with hands folded in prayer and awaiting resurrection. A husband and wife may be depicted lying side by side.

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A transept (with two semitransepts) is a transverse part of any building, which lies across the main body of the edifice. In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform (“cross-shaped”) building within the Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architectural traditions. Each half of a transept is known as a semitransept.

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A triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) that is divided into three sections, or three carved panels that are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works. The middle panel is typically the largest and it is flanked by two smaller related works, although there are triptychs of equal-sized panels.

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A triumphal arch is a monumental structure in the shape of an archway with one or more arched passageways, often designed to span a road.
In its simplest form a triumphal arch consists of two massive piers connected by an arch, crowned with a flat entablature or attic on which a statue might be mounted or which bears commemorative inscriptions. The main structure is often decorated with carvings, sculpted reliefs, and dedications. More elaborate triumphal arches may have multiple archways.

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Trompe l’oeil is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.

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The Tuscan order is a classical order born in Rome, it is solid and not so ornate. The influence of the Doric order is evident even if it features un-fluted columns and a simple entablature and it has no triglyphs or guttae. The Romans did not see this style to be a separate order and because of that Vitruvius does not mention it in his manuscript “De architectura”.
It was classified as a separate formal order in the Italian Renaissance.

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In architecture, a tympanum (plural, tympana; from Latin and Greek words meaning “drum”) is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window, which is bounded by a lintel and an arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments.

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Also called “Churrigueresque”, refers to a Spanish Baroque style of elaborate sculptural architectural ornament which emerged as a manner of stucco decoration in Spain in the late 17th century and used up to about 1750.
It is characterized by extreme, expressive and florid decorative detailing, normally found above the entrance on the main facade of a building.

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The most familiar aspect of ancient Greek pottery is painted vessels of fine quality. These were not the everyday pottery used by most people but were sufficiently cheap to be accessible to a wide range of the population.
Few examples of ancient Greek painting have survived so modern scholars have to trace the development of ancient Greek art partly through ancient Greek vase-painting, which survives in large quantities and is also, with Ancient Greek literature, the best guide we have to the customary life and mind of the ancient Greeks.

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In architecture, a vault (French voûte, from Italian volta) is a self-supporting arched form, usually of stone or brick, serving to cover a space with a ceiling or roof. The simplest kind of vault is the barrel vault (also called a wagon or tunnel vault), which is generally semicircular in shape.

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A Venus figurine is any Upper Palaeolithic statuette portraying a woman.
Most have been unearthed in Europe, but others have been found as far away as Siberia, and distributed across much of Eurasia.

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A vignette, in graphic design, is a unique form for a frame to an image, either illustration or photograph. Rather than the image’s edges being rectilinear, it is overlaid with decorative artwork featuring a unique outline

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The representation of deity in the form or with the attributes of the lower animals.
The use of animal forms in art or symbolism

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